My Elisabetha: Genealogy Adventures in the Rheinpfalz

My Elisabetha: Genealogy Adventures in Pfalz

Tales from an amateur genealogist
By Jillaine Smith
Washington DC
May 2000

Table of Contents

What we knew before the trip
Reviews our initial research, and explains how we used microfilmed church records to build out the branches of our family tree.

RootsWeb Mailing Lists, the Buffalo Betz Project, and confusion about Terminology
When we got stuck, we turned to Internet mailing lists, Web-based databases, and other resources on the Internet.

"Jews & Mormons Join Forces to Achieve Genealogical Victories"
Using old and current online maps with the LDS "Family Search" online database to locate a likely town name when I didn't know where a particular ancestor came from.

The Speyer Archives
Visiting the incredible central archive of Protestant church records from the Pfalz.

Civil & Emigration Records
Visiting the civil archives for a specific area of the Pfalz, and the institute in Kaiserslautern that houses emigration information about people leaving Pfalz.

Mother's Day & New Questions Surface
The more informal, yet highly satisfying, experience of hanging out in my ancestral towns, and getting to know the people there. I also include my experience, and resulting questions, about the evidence of a Jewish community found in one particular town.

I list and link to resources throughout the body of the entire document, but here I compile them all, plus some other helpful resources.

A Postscript
added 30 Sept 2000
What I've learned as a result of publishing this article, including a wonderful story about a newly discovered distant cousin, and... what My Elisabetha looks like!


In May of the year 2000, my husband and I traveled to Germany for a wedding. We expanded the trip to do some genealogy research and to explore the countryside of my ancestors. This document is about that trip and the research that went into preparing for it.  Elisabetha Betz was my great-great-grandmother, and the inspiration behind this work.

I want to share with the genealogy community the experience I had there. I am an amateur genealogist, and I learned a great deal in the process of preparing for this trip, as well as on the trip itself. I hope that my experience can be useful to other people who are researching their ancestors. I also hope that more experienced genealogists will review this document and contact me (you'll need to modify that email address to make it work) with any corrections or clarifications they think I should make. I'll be happy to make them.

I want to thank everyone on the Internet, especially the marvelous community throughout RootsWeb, who has contributed so generously and patiently to the growing number of family researchers. Thanks are also due to Darcy McCabe for her incredible ability to quickly learn German script and be so generous with her skills; and to my husband, Philip Bogdonoff, for his ongoing love and support (and patience) with this latest hobby of mine.

-- Jillaine Smith
Washington, DC
June 2000

Let the story begin...